Remodeler’s Corner: Keeping the Pace Building and Remodeling for a Growing Family

Εverything seemed to meet in the mudroom at Blair and Stephanie Seelhammer’s house for years. It was the day-to-day entrance, as well as the family laundry center, where the washer-dryer-sink worked hard and often.

Add three children under 10 to the scene and the traffic could turn “chaotic,” Stephanie says. “There was no place to put anything. This was always just a problem area.” Today, the mudroom still is the entry and drop point for outdoor gear, but the youngsters’ winter coats can hang neatly in newly built lockers. Boots and shoes wait for action in cubbies, and overhead cabinets hold belongings. A granite shelf also provides a drop-off point for stray stuff—or perhaps seasonal decorations. The laundry room migrated upstairs to the second floor because, as Blair observes, “That’s where the clothes are.”


Blair, an optometrist, and Stephanie, a Mayo Clinic physician, have owned their home in the Scenic Oaks subdivision since 2008, the year after it was built. The Seelhammers encountered general contractor Mike Allen, who had built some homes in their neighborhood, about three years later at an open house.  Allen frames the opportunity he saw:  “Can we accommodate a growing, fast-paced family of today?…That’s really what we did.” Allen and the couple started planning their project in late 2013 and construction began in June 2014. 

 A revamp of the mudroom relieved the Seelhammers’ congestion. Yet, it was just one facet of a combination renovation-addition project aimed at making the 4,000-square-foot-plus house a better living space.


Perhaps the biggest single project was building an addition on the second story at the south end of the house. One discovery turned the bedroom construction from problematic to practical. Allen found the home’s unheated porch at ground level had been built with full footings instead of minimal support. “So, we were able to [build] right on top…leaving the screen[ed] porch and putting [on] the second story as living space,” Allen describes. 

The homeowners had one important requirement for the upper-level addition—a seamless appearance. “How do you make it look like it was supposed to be there?” Blair says. On the exterior, Allen’s subcontractors were able to splice the bedroom into the roof line over the garage. 

They also succeeded in closely matching the size and color of the home’s siding. “You want the addition to look as natural as the day the house was built,” Allen agrees.  

Meanwhile, the interior blueprints called for removing several walls, extending the main hallway and lengthening a deep, walk-in closet for the master bedroom. The interior merge is so subtle that it takes a practiced eye to spot the changeover from old to new.

Stephanie insisted on cork flooring in the walk-in closet. Why cork? “Because I thought it was fun,” she says. A cork surface can also cushion feet better than some other floor coverings, she notes.


The addition for the house’s fourth bedroom also created an opportune spot for a laundry room. Allen’s crews were able to convert part of the previous fourth bedroom, including a stretch of wall shared with the master bath. “We were able to grab on to some of the plumbing that was in there [for water supply and drains],” Allen says.

The Seelhammers also added some decor to the basic laundry room. Among them are: a drying rack for drying clothes, which drops down from a wall compartment;  a pull-out ironing board, hidden in a wall cabinet; and a sliding pocket door to the room  to help quiet noise; laminate counter tops in a petrified wood pattern and floor tiles carrying a wooden boardwalk design. 


Downstairs, the Seelhammers installed glazed maple cabinetry with dual workstations for efficiency in remodeling their home office. They also replaced carpet with hardwood flooring in the second-story hall, added heating in their three-car garage and made other small improvements.

Construction lasted from mid-2014 until February 2015. During eight months of work, the Seelhammers say their main inconvenience from construction was 2 1/2 months when duct work prevented clothes washing at the house. They are enthusiastic about Allen’s work. ”I felt like he listened [to us],” Stephanie says. Allen made the Seelhammers’ project a showcase for his work by entering it in the 2015 Remodelers Tour by Rochester Area Builders.

Bob Freund is a Rochester-based freelance writer.